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Ligonier chamber names Persons of the Year

| Thursday, March 14, 2013, 8:53 p.m.
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
Debbie and Dave Sarault, owners of Betsy’s of Ligonier, are the newest Ligonier Valley Chamber of Commerce Persons of the Year.
Deborah A. Brehun | Trib Total Media
Laurie McGinnis owner of Second Chapter Books (from left) sits with sports author and historian Jim O'Brien as he signs a books for Dianne Stewart owner of Abigail's Coffeehouse. O'Brien was the guest speaker at the recent 63rd Ligonier Valley Chamber of Commerce dinner meeting.

David and Debbie Sarault were recognized as the Ligonier Valley Chamber of Commerce Persons of the Year at the 63rd chamber dinner at the Barn at Ligonier last week.

Cheryl McMullen presented the award to the Saraults. McMullen, former owner of The Paper House & Basketry, and her husband Arthur were the first recipients of the award in 1996.

“For the fourth time since its inception in 1996, the award goes to a team — and they are a team in every aspect of their lives,” said McMullen. “Debbie has been an integral part of most every event that the chamber puts on — Summer in Ligonier, the Stroll and the Scarecrow contest.”

McMullen said Debbie Sarault was on the committee that developed the Townwide Open House, Gingerbread House contest and the Christmas in Ligonier brochure.

“I look around and see extended family here,” said Debbie Sarault as she accepted the award. “We came to this wonderful town and fell in love with it.”

David Sarault has helped with the Ligonier Ice Fest and Antiques on the Diamond for many years.

“We are honored to be put in the same class as the other winners,” he said. “Recognition from your peers is the highest form of flattery. To be recognized in this way is very special.”

David Sarault is a first vice president of Janney Montgomery Scott and is also active with the Rotary in Ligonier. His wife operates Betsy's of Ligonier and is active with the Business Professional Women's organization, as a 4-H leader and on the board of directors of Westmoreland Walks.

“Although there are many reasons for awarding this honor to David and Debbie, it can be summed up like this — ‘They love Ligonier,' — what more is there to say?” said McMullen.

The Saraults moved to Ligonier from Brooklyn, Conn., in 1984.

“When we were searching for a place to live, we drove up into the Ligonier Diamond and saw a bandstand much like the one we had in our home town,” said Debbie Sarault. “We had a good feeling when we came to this town.”

David Sarault said he was a member of the Rotary Club in Connecticut, and before deciding to live in Ligonier, he attended Rotary meetings in other towns in the area.

“We wanted to find a place similar to what we were used to,” said Dave Sarault. “In Ligonier, I met the local business people and felt very comfortable with this town.”

In 1990, they purchased the ladies apparel shop on West Main Street from Betsy Cannon.

“It was a wonderful decision and an unbelievable journey,” said Debbie Sarault. “I can't think of any other place I would want to be.”

Sarault praised the community and the accomplishments of the chamber.

“The first thing we did after we opened the shop was go to the chamber and become a member,” she said. “We are here because of this community and the hard work the chamber does.”

The Saraults served on the chamber board since 1992. Each served as president as well as officer positions.

“A mentor once told me, ‘If you want to be successful, hang out with successful people,'” he said. “In our involvement with the chamber, we have been able to be involved with a lot of successful people.”

Annie Urban chamber president said Debbie Sarault was her mentor when she opened Amica on East Main Street.

“They are both so well-deserving of this,” said Urban.“There is a lot that goes on in this little town. We are lucky people.”

Chamber Director Holly Mowrey said the Sarault's dedication and loyalty to the Ligonier Valley Chamber of Commerce and the community is unwavering.

“They both possess a deep devotion to Ligonier and are wonderful ambassadors to our community,” Mowrey said.

Mowrey reviewed the chamber's 2012 accomplishments during the meeting.

“We held 12 events last year and 14 concerts,” she said. “We celebrated our 64th season of Sunday evening concerts with some of the performers participating for more than 30 years.

Mowrey announced the second Recognizing Amazing Merchants and Students program would return in May.

“I am so proud of the partnership with the school district RAMS project,” she said. “The hand-crafted merchandise that will be sold in our shops is simply amazing.”

Mowrey mentioned the many other events held by the chamber including the golf outing at the Ligonier Country Club set for June 21 and praised the many volunteers who make each event possible.

Mowrey said last year's theme focused on chamber growth and she was proud to announce 51 new members joined the chamber in 2012.

“This year's them is ‘Buy Local,'” she said. “We encourage or challenge everyone to think about shopping in one of our unique shops before jumping in the car to go elsewhere,” she said.

Sports author and historian Jim O'Brien was the guest speaker at the dinner meeting.

He conducted a book signing for his latest book “Immaculate Recollections.”

“Ligonier has always been a special place. We have been coming to Fort Ligonier Days for more than 20 years.” said O'Brien. “I love Ligonier. We have had so many special times here.”

O'Brien said he gets good story ideas from people he meets when he comes to Ligonier.

“I meet people in the book store that tell me stories,” he said.

O'Brien said he is currently working on his next book about the Steelers of the 1970s.

Deborah A. Brehun is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-238-2111 or

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